© 2022 by Vernon Miles Kerr and VernonMilesKerr.com - Originally posted to Twitter as a rough draft on 1/9/2022
I was thinking of Tweeting about my experience with the apparent “flattening” of America that has occurred since I was a five year-old kid in Alabama. My mom was ironing, we were listening to Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy on the radio and she said, “We’re gonna be moving to Los. Angeles.”
I asked, “Isn’t that where Hollywood is?”
From the radio and movies, I already knew they didn’t say “Hey” in the West, they said “Hi” They also didn’t say “Y’all” they said “You guys.” So I started to re-train myself, in advance, to switch vocabulary.
With the car packed, I and my baby brothers on a pallet of quilts in the backseat, and a huge trailer hitched on the back, loaded with three-bedrooms worth of furniture, we headed West. We got to the “West” the next day: Texas. We stopped for breakfast at a greasy-spoon. I greeted the waitress, “Hi.”
She gushed, “Well Hey, honey how-er yeeeooo?”
Not “fer enuf” West.
Since those days, (actually, within the last decade, IMO) “Hey” has largely replaced “Hi” as the preferred greeting of our youth. “Y’all is acceptable all over, as a more down-home friendly & casual replacement for the West’s “You guys”— and even the East’s “Youse guys.” Even beyond a flat-America, we’ve experienced a similar linguistic flattening of the whole world in the past ten years. “No worries,” was a cute Aussie term ten years ago. Yesterday, here in California, I heard a nurse tell an apologizing medical assistant, “No worries,” just as casually as if she owned it. I’ve also noticed the adoption of a few UK colloquialisms recently. I myself favor “amongst” over “among” in many cases—”whilst” over “while” in others.
But, (here’s where the piece turns serious) thinking of a “flat-earth”—not the one of goofy conspiracy-theorists, but the one described by Thomas Friedman in 2005, in The World is Flat— I went to Wikipedia to refresh my memory. While his analysis—based on a lot of world travel at the time—was superb, his prognostications, these two-decades later, seem a little naive. The commercial/industrial”flattening” he described in hopeful terms, now seems rather threatening. And rather than the suspected trickle-down effect on personal equality, the gap between Oligarchs and us, the virtual Serfs, has widened. I recommend a re-read: